WorkSafe New Zealand v Pegasus Engineering Ltd [2019] NZDC 7162

Published 03 October 2019

Sentencing — exposing individual to risk of harm — whether co-worker of deceased a victim — definition of victim — Stumpmaster v WorkSafe New Zealand [2018] NZHC 2020 — WorkSafe New Zealand v Altranz [2018] NZDC 2658 — WorkSafe New Zealand v Coda Operations Ltd Partnership [2017] NZDC 18902 — Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 — Sentencing Act 2002, s 4. The defendant appeared for sentence on a charge of exposing an individual to the risk of harm. One of the defendant's employees had been crushed to death by a falling beam while operating a crane. On the issue of reparations, the Court awarded $80,000 to the deceased's wife and $20,000 to his daughter, plus consequential loss of $23,240. The Court then had to decide whether a co-worker of the deceased qualified as a victim, and was therefore eligible for reparations. After analysing sentencing caselaw, the Court found that the co-worker did qualify as a victim. The victim had been working close to the deceased as the leading hand at the worksite, and was one of the first responders at the scene of the accident. He had suffered emotional harm and a loss of earnings as a result. The Court awarded the victim $45,000 in reparations. In setting the quantum of the fine, the Court assessed the defendant's culpability at the high end of medium, and set a starting point of $600,000. In mitigation the defendant had pleaded guilty, cooperated with the investigation, shown remorse and taken steps to atone for the deceased's death and to improve its worker safety practices, and had the means to pay reparations in full. These factors reduced the fine to $360,000. Looking at the overall circumstances of the case, the Court set the final fine at $250,000 and ordered that the defendant pay costs of $936.91. Judgment Date: 11 April 2019.